June 19, 2020

Safe masking tips during summer months

What you need to know about combining wearing a mask with summertime weather


As temperatures heat up and people venture out as COVID-19 safer-at-home restrictions are slowly lifted, an infectious diseases expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center has tips for wearing a mask during the summer months.

David Aronoff, MD, director, Division of Infectious Diseases at VUMC, said social distancing continues to be a top recommendation for keeping COVID-19 at bay when leaving the safety of your home.

When errands and other activities that require leaving home expose you to summer heat, Aronoff suggests the following when wearing masks:

  • If you can socially distance outdoors, you might not need to wear a mask. Keep that in mind.
  • Wear sunscreen and/or sun hats with wide brims and stay hydrated.
  • When taking off or putting on masks be sure to practice good hand hygiene first. Have hand sanitizer handy in case you cannot wash your hands (for 20 seconds) using soap and water.
  • Bring extra masks if your cloth mask is at risk for getting wet or otherwise soiled.

Aronoff said there are many options for masks and stressed that the face covering should fit comfortably and not restrict breathing.

If masking is not an option, translucent face shields should be considered.

“These are inexpensive, can be washed easily and reused,” he said. “They also allow people to see your whole face. Since face shields reach from the forehead to below the chin and around to cover the ears, they can be more comfortable than masks for some.”

Mask wearers should clean them daily or change if soiled, wet or if there are any concerns about cleanliness.

And to help prevent overheating while wearing a mask, he urges that users stay hydrated and shaded.

“Overall, persons should socially distance appropriately when outdoors particularly when exercising or engaged in activities where mask-wearing would be impractical or difficult,” he reiterated.

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